China has overtaken Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy, according to the country’s chief currency regulator, Reuters reported. Yi Gang noted the milestone in an interview posted on the State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s website. Whether the pace of growth could be sustained was an issue, Yi said, not least because of the environmental constraints China faces.
Responding to questions from Bloomberg News, the environmental protection ministry said environmental accidents rose 98% in the first six months of 2010, as demand for energy and minerals lead to poisoned rivers and oil spills. “Fast economic development is leading to increasing conflicts with the capacity of the environment to absorb” demands, the ministry said.
Zijin Mining Group said one of its vice presidents, Chen Jiahong, has been detained by police in connection with the spill of copper-mine waste that poisoned the Ting river in Fujian province, the Associated Press reported. Blamed for the industry’s worst waste leakage in China in two years, Zijin said in statements to the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges that it will limit production at a gold mine in the accident area, according to Bloomberg News.
The frequency of industrial accidents this summer has raised new questions about whether China can maintain expansion without doing catastrophic harm, Time said. A fatal explosion at a plastics factory being dismantled in Nanjing is the latest in a series. On the same day, floodwaters swept thousands of sealed barrels containing toxic chemicals into the Songhua in Jilin province.
Meanwhile, the Dalian oil spill has been stopped from reaching international waters, the city’s vice mayor told state media. Xinhua quoted Dai Yulin as saying the clean-up work was “arduous”. An oil pipeline exploded on July 16, triggering a blast on an adjacent pipeline near Xingang harbour.
The Associated Press quoted an American marine conservation specialist as saying the spill is dozens of times larger than the government has reported. Rick Steiner – acting as a consultant for Greenpeace China -- estimated that 60,000 to 90,000 tonnes of oil had gone into the Yellow Sea.
Acid rain fell on 189 monitored Chinese cities in the first half of 2010, and in eight areas of those every rainfall was acidic, People’s Daily cited a spokesperson for the environmental protection ministry as saying.
Chinese scientists have successfully tested the country’s first experimental fourth-generation nuclear reactor, Zhang Donghui, general manager of the project, told Xinhua. Zhang said the reactor is “safer, more environment-friendly and more economic than its predecessors”.
Chiina plans to send two of its prized giant pandas to Japan early next year, the Associated Press quoted Xinhua as saying. The five-year-olds are to move from the Wolong Nature Reserve to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo for 10 years.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
China’s first major revision to its 15-year-old air pollution law will do more at the regional level to cut down on smog, but there are glaring omissions, such as a cap on coal use.